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Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.

Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:41 am

This came to mind recently. I've been thinking about the nature of new intellectual property development for animation in the modern age and how dramatically things have changed from only a few years ago.

It struck me with even more clarity than before just how significant that change has become and how more and more over I'm seeing new projects heading straight for the Web and straight for an audience.

No stops, no heading to a network or studio, no heading down the traditional path that we've always known as 'the pitch'. Increasingly, intellectual property developers are going directly to exhibition through New Media.

Which gave rise to the thought and the question...

Is 'the pitch' in animation obsolete? Have things moved and are moving so far beyond the traditional modalities of getting a project up and running, that pitching in the stereotypical sense is going the way of the horse and buggy?

While it may not be that drastic, my feelings are that it is. The mantra I've always used has been 'produce it first then pitch'. I'm staring to think more along the lines of 'produce it first and don't worry about the pitch, just get it out there.'

With crowdfunding resources, social media, YouTube and Vimeo, worldwide interactive communication and a general migration away from television and into alternative media, to me, 'the pitch' as we've come to know it in animation is becoming less and less relevant.

I welcome the sharing of your thoughts on this subject.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Miracle » Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:32 pm

I see where you are coming from Charles but consider this. Folks who do a video or animated short just for fun or "yucks", and then put it onto the internet are not usually doing this to make money. It is difficult to find a way to have people pay to view your YouTube posting. While it made Justin Beiber famous(and lots of money) it does not mean that his is a common story in comparison to the millions of website postings that never make a dime.
I have been told that our animated production, in it's current simplier semi-animatic form, is now good enough to hit the internet. In doing that , I would negate the possibility of later going to a venue where I can make the film finanicialy work so I could make another, then maybe another. The huge financial investment that it takes to put together something like many film producers put into their projects, needs to be recouped somehow and pitching the projects to studios or distributors is the only current way to put your film onto a path of generating your investment dollars to return to you.
Then again, if your only goal is notariety,rare potential fame, or if your project was not very expensive or holds any likley potential of making money if distributed, then it is an easy choice to go the the web. Getting people to see your film is easy on the web. Getting people to see your film and pay to see it, still takes pitching.

Good subject Charles!

Blessings,
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:43 pm

Look at it this way Tom.

If you took some literature and artwork to a TV network and pitched your project at the beginning, how far do you think it would get?

If the creators of Axecop, a little kid and his older brother, went to the networks or a major studio and pitched their idea about a nonsensical series tat featured a policeman that chopped people's heads off, how would they respond?

Axecop went online and is now being developed for a Saturday night primetime block at FOX.

You're developing your franchise and you're doing it without a pitch in the traditional sense.

Revenue or no revenue yet, at least you're getting your content out there and now there's the chance of success, where as with the alternative there would be nothing.

You're proof of what I'm talking about! :D
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Miracle » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:39 am

Yes, I am developing my Miracle Mouse feature film property without any pitching,...yet. We did have one audience member who was "in the business" of wanting to see it developed and pitched as a televison series. When you visit our website , you see the picth booklet we did for that purpose. When this is pitched as a feature(it's original gameplan) we will need to re-tweak the pitch booklet. Once my property is fully developed, I always thought I would need to then get an agent to represent me or I would be doing a lot of "door pounding" to see which studios or distributors would be interested in it.
Then again, if web postings such as this one, should ever peak the curiosity of a studio or investor, their next question to me will be asking me to explain the project/story. My reply is , a pitch.

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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:48 pm

The pitch in the traditional sense Tom, whereby a creative individual, group enterprise, whatever it may be, solicits a studio, production company, network, etc, for the purpose of securing funds, resources, something that would move the project forward and into the public eye, I feel is obsolete.

The days when pitches were made with a synopsis, perhaps a production bible, some artwork, and a song and dance, are either gone or on their way out.

Today, in the modern era, it's about producing your property in some way, whether as animated content or as a comic or storybook, what have you, then bringing in strategic partners.

It's about getting it to the public without the necessity of the pitch.

I suppose that 'pitching' in some sense, for example, convincing others to engage in the venture, will still go on of course. But the idea, or system or process, that you have to pitch to the gatekeepers in order to get anywhere with your project in the first place is a non-factor in whether a property can get to its audience nowadays.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:41 pm

In addition to Axecop, here's another example of someone who's become very successful on their own without the need to pitch in the traditional sense.

Ray William Johnson has the most subscribers on YouTube. He produces quick music videos using Flash through Cosmic Toast in Burbank and then sells the song on iTunes.

There's many examples of creative individuals and companies getting their content out there without having to pitch and being rewarded with a substantial community that supports what they do.

There's more than one way to go today!

Pitch to the people! ;)
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Dolphin78 » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:27 pm

Having done a pitch or two myself, I'm happy to see the changes in media. Direct media for profit like iTunes, pad apps. and phone apps. certainly lowers the bar to a potentially self sustaining form of financing -- at least for smaller projects.

For big productions and big bucks, the conveniences of the pitch have changed, but the hurdles are still very much the same. A great idea, great connections, sales talent and being born under a lucky star are all assets!
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby ChanceRaz » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:55 pm

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http://studios.amazon.com/projects/12758#player/videos (Watch the PITCH VIDEO!!!)
http://studios.amazon.com/projects/12758 (Download the Pilot Script and Mini-Bible)

It seems this thought has sparked the minds of many, including online commercial giant, Amazon.com. Amazon recently revamped and challenged this concept by launching their own production studio. They have since been soliciting pitches from anyone with a strong, original idea. Perhaps "the pitch" itself is in the process of being redefined.

While I fully agree with and embrace the fact that the traditional pitch is no longer necessary to reach a worldwide audience, propel a project to notoriety, or even provide the required funds for massive projects (thank you Kickstarter), I believe we are now (and shall continue) seeing "the big boy's" reaction to this new reality.

The above is one example. I recently pitched this idea for a new, original series I co-created with my friend to Amazon Studios. Here's what sets them apart: Not only is access and an open invite made available to anyone online, the perks and returns significantly rival anything offered by Hollywood for decades! In addition, you have the option to make your project public immediately. The studio encourages its audience (any Amazon member, shopper, etc.) to view, rate, and comment on projects they like before they're even reviewed - creating the literal "pitch to the people" we've all been waiting for.

But hey, don't take my word for it - check out our "CALIFORNIA KIDDS" pitch to see what I mean! This is a very exciting and unprecedented time for all creators (especially the independents)!!! I strongly encourage all of you to make the most of this and similar resources, and hope you guys will check out, rate, and comment on the links above. Thanks, enjoy, and as a brother of mine would say...

KEEP CREATING!!!

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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby SandSquid » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:46 am

Great thread guy. Here is my two cents ...

Personally I don't think the pitch is obsolete because even posting it on YouTube and Vimeo is a form of a pitch, just in a different form but with the same end goal in mind ... to win over audiences and (in most cases) generate revenue.

As YouTube matures as a business and channels carve out their online patch in their bid to attract advertising dollars I feel like content online is going to become much more structured. Already there is a different/new breed of gatekeepers emerging. Just look at Mondo Media, Smosh's Shut Up Cartoons, both of who require you to pitch to get something up and with their channels but can afford to do so because they have access to such a huge audience. I have nothing against them, more power to them I say.

As long as the web remains open, Indies will still be able to be discovered (like Axecop) which is a great thing but for every Axecop there are plenty of creators and animators slogging it out to attract an audience. For some it can take two years of producing content before getting noticed, being signed to a major channel, or generating enough views and a following to be self sustaining.

I guess for me it comes down to horses for courses. I bet there are plenty of shows that would die a quick and painful death if they were released online. There's still a lot to say for a show being nurtured and developed for TV or film by folks who are willing to take a risk and back something they believe in.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:22 pm

Great input! Thanks to all who are contributing to the topic.

Even though new gatekeepers are emerging, the dynamics of whether or not your project can get out at all even without a pitch have markedly changed over the past few years and for the better I might add. The competition for online content lends itself to venues being more open to what you have to offer. The odds of a 'yes' are far greater than they would be with traditional venues.

And even though your project may not be picked up, well, YouTube and Vimeo are there to provide a way for you to at least get your project out there to be seen by the masses. Which is a far cry from what we had before.

The traditional pitch is being affected by many new and emerging aspects to entertainment.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:56 am

Check out this topic which I featured yesterday on the forums. It relates directly to the subject at hand.

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4151

Cartoon Network announced they'll be developing new animated properties as apps first instead of content directly intended for broadcast TV.

Here's a direct link to the article.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby SandSquid » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:57 am

Very interesting. We all know Apps are popular but what I think is the sleeper wave to hit us (or to be more precise - the younger generation) is games.

If you look at Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and any other similar site you'll see games as a big offering (because I guess it helps to glue visitors to the site for longer).

Marry that with sites like Kongregate, Armor Games and Newgrounds where indie and emerging (and most times young) game developers can distribute their games and you can quickly see that game development and distribution is going to be the next content/entertainment wave ... just like YouTube was to video. Smart move on CN part I'd say.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:38 am

I agree. We've been discussing the development of CN going straight to Apps with their new properties in classes all week long so far at my school along with the notion that the traditional pitch to the networks is pretty much dead.

One of our guest speakers this week was at a recent event where several development execs from the local animation networks were talking about how to proceed in pitching to them and according to what our visitor was recounting they were basically saying take it to the Web first.

If you want to be successful with pitching a project then you need to do what they're doing and that is produce it for the Internet and Apps and games and comics and crowdfunding and build your audience.

I've been saying this for years. Produce it first then pitch. Now I'm saying why even bother with a traditional pitch when everything is heading to the Web anyway. You can have your own empire.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:49 am

One more thing worth mentioning. My students have been telling me about what's happening with some online comics. One of them they mentioned has been around for a while building their audience for several years with daily entries. They went to Kickstarter to crowdfund a video game based on their comic and raised more than $700,000. This is what they told me.

I checked the Internet rankings of another online comic they mentioned to see how popular it is. Astronomical. It had better traffic than AWN or Cartoonbrew or Animation Magazine or just about any other animation oriented news venue in our industry. They also had a member forum with more than 35,000 members! They developed their project and community and can easily raise funds by accessing their fan base.

This is the new world we're in. It's all about us, the creators. Not animation politics, not development execs, not the traditional gatekeepers. It's about us and what we have to creatively offer to the people of the earth.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby SandSquid » Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:03 am

Thanks as always for your insight Charles, certainly is a brave new world out there. And btw, great to hear what your students are noticing and responding to out there on the interweb.

We're currently thinking along these lines for New Eden. Just taking our time to get our ducks in a row, as they say.
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Re: Is 'the pitch' obsolete?

Postby Charles » Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:29 pm

You've got a good thing going with your New Eden property SandSquid.

Here's something else to encourage one and all when it comes to pursuing your projects online. Another reason why pitching to the established system is becoming obsolete.

Ever heard of Homestuck? Neither have I until this week. I made reference to it in my above post when I said that an online comic raised $700,000 through Kickstarter to develop a video game.

I was mistaken. They didn't raised $700K. That was their goal.

They raised $2,485,506 through 24,346 backers!

The campaign wrapped up only 6 days ago. Check it out...

www.kickstarter.com/projects/14293468/h ... nture-game

The website for Homestuck is in complete contrast to most tricked out sites for character based properties. It has a huge following. Way more visitors than the most popular news content oriented sites for animation.

www.mspaintadventures.com/

What does that say about Web traffic for animation and comics based properties?

And what does it say when Cartoon Network decides to go the app route for their properties even before they're produced as TV shows?

The Internet has come of age my friends.

Develop your project, take it online, have fun, stick with it and build your audience without anyone getting in your way.

Pitch to the people.
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